Thursday, July 24, 2008

Restaurant Roulette

So, those of you with food allergies understand how nerve wracking it can be to dine out. I know that for a very long time our dining out consisted of three local restaurants that we knew could be trusted. Now, with the introduction of the new allergy guidelines and information, it is amazing how many companies have their allergy information on their web site. It's nice to see where we might have options before getting in the car.
 I know that some nights a mama just does NOT want to cook, especially when you make three meals a day, two snacks a day, seven days a week. And there is no ordering pizza. Ever. No mac and cheese. Don't get me wrong, we have quick options- God Bless Tyson! They were among the first to be dairy free in the world of chicken nuggets. A mom has to have some shortcuts.
 Still, it's nice to eat out now and then. And now that the world seems to be getting more aware of food allergies, it's easier to find restaurants that I can trust. Even at that, I do worry about the cooks who are not careful about cross contamination, or servers who do not accurately convey the allergy part of the order. So, anytime that I have any doubt, I do ask to speak to a manager. Of course, I always make it clear that the server is not at fault (unless of course it WAS the server with a lackadaisical attitude.), but that we need extra assurance because of the severity of the issue.
 I LOVE LOVE LOVE Aladdin's eatery in Grandview, as the staff there is so knowledgeable about the menu contents and allergy information. They have a particularly wonderful man there named Michael that really won over our family. He is super friendly, and has an amazing memory! He remembers us and our eating limitations, and even bits of information we share on our daily life. I absolutely trust that eating there will be a good experience. I really wish that everyone with a food allergy could find one restaurant that they could trust as much, because everyone needs a break on occasion. Good luck, and good eating!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Successful Snacking!

My girls are getting tired of the same old snacks, so I am on a quest to shake it up. I want healthier and more varied foods to serve, so that their palettes will be open to new experiences. Yesterday was pumpkin dip for their graham crackers. They licked the bowl! So, here is the super simple recipe for a quick and delicious snack pumpkin lovers can enjoy:

Pumpkin Cracker Dip

1/2 can pumpkin
1/4 c powdered sugar, or to taste
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t cinnamon
dash nutmeg
2 T silk original creamer

Wisk all ingredients together in bowl. Dip graham crackers, cinnamon chips, or your favorite crunchy snack. The spices can all be altered to fit your tastes, I was trying for spices that would mimic the pumpkin pie flavor, since my girls LOVE pumpkin pie. (Vegan pumpkin pie is actually quite yummy.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Meatloaf my way

Meatloaf is such a comfort food for me. I couldn't eliminate it from my diet, but leaving out eggs, dairy and beef meant some adaptations. I really never measure anything, I just throw it all together, so the following measurements are guess-timates. I often change up the add ins based on what is on hand, so feel free to play with it to customize it to your family tastes. I have added parsley, red pepper, mushrooms, even shredded carrot! This one is good, my husband loves it, and so does my mother-in-law. We have it frequently, and it is even awesome cold on a meatloaf sandwich.


1 pound ground turkey (I like the 7% fat variety, more fat is good with meatloaf)
1/2 c unsweetened soy milk
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t dried sage
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t ground dry mustard
1/4 t black pepper
1/8 t garlic powder
1 t olive oil (use a bit more if use lower fat turkey)
3 slices bread, processed into crumbs in food processor
1 small onion, chpd in food processor
1/2 green pepper, chpd in food processor
1/4 c fresh spinach, chpd fine
2-3 T nutritional yeast (optional)

Mix all seasonings first, then work in meat. If the mix seems a bit dry, you can add up to 1/2 cup of water. (Careful though, because adding too much water makes it so tender that it will fall apart instead of cutting.) For best flavor I assemble this at lunch time and let it sit in the fridge until it's time to make dinner. I have even prepared it the night before and the flavors have time to really blend for super yummy results! Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Welcome to my world.

Being a mom means always thinking about food. It starts with the birth of baby one, and continues until all the kids cook for themselves. I'm not there yet. I'm past the bottles and baby food though! With three preschoolers/toddlers at home, food is always a few minutes away. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and sometimes, ANOTHER snack. Really, is it any wonder stay at home moms struggle to maintain a healthy weight when they are constantly around food? And in my life, we have food allergies to contend with, so eating is a bit of an extra challenge.
 My eldest is allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts, and beef. So we cook creatively. At first it was HARD! The dairy council is an un-named mafia in this country. Really! I remember shopping right after the allergies were finally named, and picking up a package of frozen chicken breast. Thinking it totally unnecessary, I checked the ingredient list only to find MILK! In frozen chicken breast. Milk is the hardest for us to avoid, because it hides in so many places. Now it's even in soap. What's up with that?
 The good news is that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new allergy labeling. Those days of spending three hours on every grocery trip reading every ingredient list for every food I touched are gone. Granted, there seem to be some loopholes, so I still pay careful attention, but my time in the store has been cut way down.
 I'm rambling. The real reason I decided to blog is that it's hard to feed kids, and even more so when you have to avoid whole groups of food. I wanted a place to share my frustration, but more so my success. I want to share the winning recipes that the kids approve of, and the husband will enjoy too! Sometimes he is pickier than they are, because he comes from a history of eating with no limitations, so substitutions don't always go well with him.
 Here I am to share food that my kids eat. I am going to share food my whole family will eat. We will build a cookbook for kids, one recipe at a time.
 Thanks for tuning in, and know that allergy free cooking gets easier with practice. I'd love to hear from you, frustrations, questions, and tips for making it easier. More soon, right now, the dirty kitchen is demanding attention so that I can start the never ending food parade again tomorrow.